There’s a pretty good storm blowing outside, not as bad as it sounded in the forecasts though. I realized yesterday, before the storm, that I was pretty much stockpiled to the point of being okay for a few days if things really went to hell. The forecast was for rain, sleet, and snow with ice accumulations.
Everyone started talking about the Ice Storm of 1998. More than 4 inches of ice built up on trees, power lines, and everywhere else. The North Country was paralyzed, and there were numerous deaths from the storm. A lot of people also died when they ran their generators inside their houses, and succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
I don’t have to worry about any of that because I don’t have power at all. Ever. The cool way of saying this is that I live “off the grid.” It’s not so much a choice as an adventure though. Carving a living out in the North Country is not easy, but I lucked into one of the best friends I’ve ever had. And just when I desperately needed a cheep place to stay, Amy came through with an offer of no rent in a one room, 400 square foot cabin with no electricity and no running water. The trade off is that I do a lot of work on the property, and she doesn’t have to worry about someone breaking in to the place again. Plus, now I live close enough to chicken-sit when she’s out of town.
The cabin sits on an amazing piece of property in Vermontville, NY. Fifty-two acres is just about the right amount of room for Pico to run around on. There’s trails and open woods that are just begging to be skied and snowshoed. The place is a simple affair, brown with white trim, a sagging porch, and attached woodshed. In the fall when it rained, the leaky porch roof afforded no protection from the rain.
After being here for a few months, I’ve gotten to know the property and get into a pretty good routine. Paul Smiths isn’t far from here, and the gym provides a much needed daily dose of Sports Center, as well as wi-fi and plenty of good books at the library. Pico and I go for a walk or ski pretty much every day, and the deer prints of the fall have been replaced by rabbit tracks. The rabbits seem to be particularly fond of the area around the outhouse. I’d prefer not to know why, exactly, that is.
Having no electricity means that your life suddenly revolves around the creation and maintenance of artificial light. I am frequently seen out at a nice restaurant in town wearing a small Petzl headlamp around my neck. There’s also the big Mag Lite with the LED bulb that is so bright it freaks me out like being hit in the eye with one of those laser pointers. I sat down today and fixed three more oil lamps. It’s really nice out here at night now, especially since the nights are so long. At least we’re getting a little more light each day.
Before the snow came, that Mag Lite would illuminate three does that were in the yard every night. I knocked down some rotten apples that were still clinging to the trees and put out some old corn that I had found in the shed. There was also the gray fox by the wood pile, and the blue jay that flew into the window and was stunned, but still ate some Ritz crackers and then took off. The sound of wildlife and absence of other sounds is wonderful.
Sure, it sucks to have to go outside to wiz when it’s -5, but the stars that can be seen on those nights almost makes me forget the bone chilling temperatures. If only people in cities could see what I see, a lot fewer people would be afraid of the dark.